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Tough work as Parliament’s audit committee takes office

A three-year backlog awaits Parliament's newly inaugurated Internal Audit Committee, with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga asking them to commit to ethics and professionalism.

The Audit Committee is established under Sections 48 and 49 of the Public Finance Management Act, to scrutinize every vote in each Financial Year budget. The Act defines a vote as an entity to which Parliament allocates funds.

Core among their duties is to appraise the soundness and application of the accounting, functional and operational controls of the vote.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Committee at Lake Victoria Serena Resort in Kigo, Kampala, Ms Kadaga said the Committee will be charged with performing a very important function.

You have an incredible duty to assist Parliament in deepening accountability and transparency in managing public funds, said Ms Kadaga.

The Speaker asked the Committee to assist the Accounting Officer [Clerk to Parliament] in issues mainly related to financial practice.

The Committee comprises of professionals drawn from the private sector, with the Clerk to Parliament or a representative as its Secretary.

The Committee is, however, less by one member, who cited conflict of interest, the Clerk to Parliament Ms Jane Kibirige said.

Members include Mr Vincent Kaheru from the The New Vision; Ms Veronica Mugalu from Kyambogo University; Mr James Onyonyi and Ms Grace Gidudu, a Principal Assistant Editor of Hansard, who will serve as the Committee's Secretary. The Committee is expected to choose its Chairperson.

Ms Kadaga said the team should appreciate Parliament's institutional uniqueness.

Section 49 empowers the Minister of Finance to appoint the members of the Committee upon recommendation by the Secretary to Treasury. Except the Secretary, none of the members shall be a public officer.

The Act empowers the Committee to review the financial statements prepared by the Accounting Officer [Clerk to Parliament] to ensure that the disclosure in the financial statements is adequate, among others.

The arrangement seeks to improve corporate governance in government entities and to lessen the burden of the Auditor General through considering mid-year financial reports from the Accounting Officer as provided in the Act.

Although the Committee may be tasked by the Finance Minister to audit more than one entity, this has specifically been assigned to cover Parliament, owing to what Speaker Kadaga described as the institution's uniqueness.

Source: Parliament of Uganda

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